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Contributory Negligence Rule

Virginia is a Contributory Negligence Rule state, meaning, if you’ve been in an accident and you’ve contributed to causing the accident, even 1%, you can be found liable for the accident and your claim becomes moot.

For example, Ally crosses GW Parkway without looking both ways, stupidly trusting that no one would dare hit a pedestrian. Tom is driving home, messing with the music, texting Gale, playing with the temperature controls, and fixing his mirror, basically driving as negligently as possible. He hits Ally and she takes him to court.

The problem? The entire case is thrown out because the accident would not have happened had Ally not acted carelessly. It doesn’t matter that Tom was behaving negligently, because there is no proof that the accident would have happened without Ally’s poor decision. Ally contributed to her injuries and will pay the price for them.

This is what happens in a “Pure” Contributory Negligence state, which only applies to Alabama, the District of Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia. In all the other 46 states the plaintiff’s recovery is simply diminished by the extent to which he or she contributed to the harm, also known as comparative negligence.

Defense attorneys are constantly trying to catch plaintiffs in the act of contributing to their accidents. What may seem benign to you, “I changed the radio station right before she rear-ended me,” might be all a defense attorney needs to poke holes into your liability. Defense attorneys are trying to prove that the plaintiff acted recklessly, and was negligent in protecting their own safety.

 

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE OR INSTRUCTION. MERELY AN INFORMATIVE POST.

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Thomas J. Curcio
Founder

Tom Curcio, the driving force behind Curcio Law, is a dedicated trial lawyer with more than 37 years of experience in Northern Virginia. He has dedicated his career to representing people who have been seriously injured through no fault of their own. He works tirelessly to obtain the compensation his clients are legally entitled to…

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Rakin Hamad
Associate

Rakin Hamad is a graduate of the George Mason Law School and joined Curcio Law as an associate in August 2018. Rakin works closely with Tom Curcio and staff in preparing cases from the initial client meeting through trial and has been a perfect fit for the firm. During law school, Rakin interned at the…

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Justin Curcio
Associate

Justin Curcio received his J.D. from St. John’s University School of Law in 2015, where he was awarded an academic scholarship. During law school, he worked for the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office and the law firm of Bartlett, McDonough & Monaghan, LLP. Justin also spent a semester studying law at the University of Glasgow…

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Riann Winget
Legal Assistant/Receptionist

Riann Winget, a native Texan, graduated with a BA in Psychology and a Minor in Legal Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2017. She was a member of the varsity soccer team, Chi Omega Sorority, and was on the university board for Big Brothers Big Sisters. After graduation, she joined AmeriCorps and taught preschool…

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Maureen Burke, RN, MSN
Nurse Consultant

Maureen Burke was born and raised in the Boston, Massachusetts area and relocated to the Alexandria area in 1984 where she and her husband raised their three children. Maureen graduated with a BS in Nursing from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire and an MS in Nursing from George Mason University. Maureen has worked at…

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